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World News | Biden will host Swedish Prime Minister at the White House to express support for NATO bid

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Streaks of light seen in California. (Photo credit: Video Grab)

WASHINGTON, July 5 (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden plans to host Sweden’s prime minister at the White House on Wednesday in a show of solidarity as the United States pushes the Nordic country to join NATO, a week before the alliance’s summit.

In a statement announcing the meeting, the White House said Biden and Prime Minister Ulf Christensen would “review our growing security cooperation and reiterate their view that Sweden should join NATO as soon as possible”. The leaders will also discuss the war in Ukraine and matters involving China.

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Sweden and neighboring Finland ended their long-standing policy of military non-alignment after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Both countries have applied to join NATO, seeking protection under the group’s security umbrella.

Finland, which shares more than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) of border with Russia, joined NATO in April. But Sweden has avoided a military alliance for more than 200 years, and its rise has been delayed by Turkey and Hungary. NATO expansion requires the unanimous consent of all member states.

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NATO had hoped that Sweden’s accession path would go well ahead of an alliance summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on July 11-12. Sweden’s entry would be a symbolically powerful moment and the latest sign of how the Russian war has pushed countries into the alliance. Those hopes have faded.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has resisted, with his government accusing Sweden of being too tolerant of groups it deems a security threat, including militant Kurdish groups and those linked to the 2016 Turkish coup .

Last week, he condemned protests in Sweden over the burning of the Koran. Swedish police have allowed a protest outside a mosque in central Stockholm, citing freedom of speech, after a court overturned a ban on similar burnings of the Koran.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he would convene top officials from Turkey, Sweden and Finland on Thursday to try to overcome Turkish opposition.

Hungary has yet to approve Sweden’s bid. Hungarian lawmakers say the long-delayed parliamentary vote will not take place until the autumn legislative session.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government has claimed that Swedish politicians have told “blatant lies” about the state of democracy in Hungary. Senior Hungarian officials said they supported Sweden’s bid to join, while also making vague demands on Stockholm as a condition of approval. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have modified or edited the body of content)


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